This blog has been silent for a long time. My life has been busy and my mind was simply questioning if what was said really mattered. This time, however, I feel compelled to respond to recent events that have shaken the community in which I live.
Lennox has suffered several tragic losses in just a few days time thanks to gun violence. The first involved an 18 year old man named Anthony Gaberiel. The second involved a killing of John Richter and a shooting of Kathy Steever at a place about one block from where I teach high schoolers.
These events for me have been surreal and it has difficult to fully process what has happened. Life continues in the community and with the students. Basketball games happened, debate tournaments were attended, and school will take place on Tuesday after President's day. The question will remain: How will we, as a community and as individuals, eventually react to these tragedies? I do not know for sure, but I hope that the reaction is not one of pushing a gunslinger mentality.
Brian Roesler, a third victim and a person that confronted Jeffrey DeZeeuw, is talking about how he will probably now get a conceal and carry permit for a gun. I understand his reaction and his thinking; however, the thinking that if everyone walks around with a gun, like the old west, then we will be safer is wrong. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is heavily entrenched in our society and encouraged by our legislature.
In a KSFY report, they decided to interview people attending a gun show where you can purchase guns without a background check. One person interviewed shared a common theme of why they need to be armed all the time:
"It's a crazy world out there. Unfortunately in the great state we live in, there's loony-toons everywhere," said J.R. Bliss, gun enthusiast.
Just two days after the deadly Lennon shooting, one of the biggest gun shows in the state is in Sioux Falls -- The Dakota Territory Gun Collectors Association Gun Show. Gun enthusiasts say today -- more than ever -- it's important to protect yourself.
"People say 'oh guns are so bad.' The weapon doesn't hurt or kill people; it's the guy behind it. And it's such great events like this that makes it possible to show proper training, the proper usage, the showing of how you can use these things correctly," said Bliss.The problem with this line of thinking is that I am pretty sure that Jeffery DeZeeuw thought in his mind that he was a responsible gun owner before the shooting.
I knew Anthony Gaberiel and he was no "loony-toon." He was a by all accounts a normal, young adult that got into an argument and whose outcome was made fatal thanks to the involvement of guns.
Bills like HB 1116, SB 192, and HB1206, which would allow more young adults on our college campuses to carry weapons, are part of the problem of the gunslinger mentality. If guns were the answer to preventing violence, then how did events like Anthony's death and the shooting and killings at Sioux Steel happen? There are many, many, many people that are responsible when it comes to gun ownership and gun safety. Unfortunately, there are many, many, many of others (and the same people) can become reckless and whose mental condition may change over time.
I don't have answers or fully understand the events of the past few days. I am not condemning people that choose to responsibly own guns for sport, for collection, and even for protection. The only thing I know is that more gunslingers walking around armed will not bring peace.